Touting Tile's Toughness

Touting Tile’s Toughness

Friday, January 13, 2023 from Floor Covering Weekly

Touting Tile's Toughness

The tile category is putting its best foot forward to guarantee products that consumers can rely on in the new year. Even amid unpredictability in the overall economy, tile’s wide array of stylish, high-performing options are set to keep the category afloat this year.

Greg Mather, CEO of Crossville, expects the unpredictable housing market to be the biggest defining factor for tile in 2023. “Based on the projections for lower new home construction levels and higher interest rates impacting even the commercial segment, there will likely be some reduction in category sales,” he said. “Despite this, I believe the category will be healthy enough for companies with strong go-to-market plans to grow year over year.”

Scott Maslowski, senior vice president of sales for Dal-Tile, sees opportunity in the commercial sector for the new year. “We believe commercial will have a strong year as this sector catches up to the residential boom from the last couple years. We know new residential building will slow significantly in 2023 as recent starts are off 30+ percent and residential remodel is the most unpredictable as consumers decide between improving their existing home or coping with higher interest rate if they purchase a new home. Overall, we anticipate the tile market being off mid-single digits in 2023.”

Rich Rose, vice president of sales support and special projects at Emser Tile, offered, “Current market conditions signal a slowdown in home sales as interest rates climb and the affordability gap widens. Hence, residential improvements and repairs are forecasted to stay above historical averages as remodeling remains in the spotlight since many homeowners intend to upgrade rather than relocate. Many of these future projects will center around key areas of the home that rely on tile and stone products for backsplashes, walls and floors in kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor spaces. As hospitality, retail, healthcare, education and workplace continue to expand, commercial projects show increased opportunities for gains in 2023. Multifamily and Build-to-Rent projects are also poised to show gains in the upcoming year as more households look to rent rather than buy due to rising homeownership costs.”

And the momentum that commercial gained in 2022 should continue into the new year, Dal-Tile’s Maslowski predicted. “Hospitality was hit the hardest during the pandemic and has begun a strong bounce back. This segment should be back to pre-pandemic numbers by 2024.  Multi-family continues to be a growth leader as millennials and Gen Z graduates are still preferring renting as they enter the workforce. Education and healthcare continue to present growth opportunities while corporate is steady but looks very different as firms downsize and offer flexible working schedules.”

Focused on the Future
Leaders in the tile industry are starting 2023 with a bang to ensure that customers reap the benefits of the category. Paulo Pereira, senior merchant for MSI, said service and commitment to providing for consumers is the company’s main focus going into the new year. “2023 will have endless opportunities for our customer as we develop and provide them with options and solutions. MSI has always and will continue to lead the industry as one of the largest importer of hard surface flooring, countertops and hardscape material.”

To provide the highest level of service to consumers, Emser is investing in technology when it comes to design, sales and more. According to Rose, “We are adding depth of style and trend into our décor and wall products, giving us fully integrated and curated collections that can be mixed and matched providing customers with an array of design opportunities.  In addition, we are in a period of fast product innovation and technological progression that touches nearly every area of our business. Our focus is on e-commerce, B2B services and areas of streamlining/simplification that makes it easier for our customers to do business with Emser.”

For each of its tile brands, including Daltile, Marazzi and American Olean, Maslowski said Dal-Tile is “committed to maximizing all of our resources and attributes to best serve our customers in 2023. Reliability, responsiveness and innovation will continue to be key focuses as we move into 2023. We will continue to work around the clock to bring down costs and maximize productivity to minimize the burden on our customers as we all face the macro-economic factors and challenges together.”

Tile Trends for 2023
Tile products offer a multitude of functions and thanks to the latest technology, new innovations are continuously hitting the market to deliver on consumer needs. MSI’s Pereira predicted “demand for new and trending wall tiles and for waterproof and slip resistant tiles that are ideally used in both indoor/outdoor, residential and commercial applications … Wall tiles will be the biggest hit rolling into 2023 and throughout the year in a matte and glossy finish and patterns.”

Rose shared that high-end visuals will impress consumers in 2023, and will highlight the design capabilities of tile that cannot be replicated in any other type of flooring. “Handcrafted tile looks with textural variation and tactile qualities, marble looks with dramatic veining and colorations, unique shapes and patterns that are playful and nostalgic as well as tile looks that are inspired by nature and sustainability are trending. Warm neutrals, rich earth tones, saturated greens, blues and black shades. Both these looks and color palettes will continue to be popular.”

Mather agreed that tile’s ability to replicate the look and feel of nature has made an impact on green-conscious customers and will continue to resonate. In addition to the product’s sustainability, he added, customers will also look to tile for solutions that can be carried throughout the home. “Increasingly, designers and end users are looking for coordinated solutions across their projects. Coordinating tile and panels across floors, walls, outdoors and pool areas provide designers the opportunity to create a major impact.”

Maslowski added that as people are continuing to spend more time at home, “Products that help expand and flow the living areas from interior to exterior spaces ranked high in the selection process.” Marble designs in both cool or warmer veining tones are also a popular choice, Maslowski said, “in polished and matte finishes as well as in a variety of formats, in wall tile, and as unique mosaics.”